We’ve been in Penang for two weeks now and of course, we have been thoroughly enjoying the local cuisine! I knew I missed Malaysian food but forgot how much I missed it. So you can imagine my excitement when I was browsing the web last week and came across a local cooking class!! I knew I had to check it out.
I had the great pleasure of meeting Pearly from Penang Homecooking School earlier this week. There were 5 students in the group – 2 ladies from Germany, 2 ladies from Hong Kong, and myself.
The class started with a tour of the Pulau Tikus wet market where Pearly showed us a variety of local ingredients. Even through I grew up here, I learned so much. She highlighted some of the local foods here and taught us the nutritional benefits of those foods.
We got to taste some mangosteen, langsat, putu mayam, and ban chang kuih.
As soon as the wet market tour was over, we drove over to Pearly’s home, which was only just a couple of minutes away from the market. We had tall glasses of iced water waiting for us when arrived.
Before we started cooking, Pearly gave us a tour of her herb and vegetable garden in her front yard. She tore up some of the leaves to allow us to smell the fragrant (and not-so-fragrant…..chicken poo scented leaves, anyone??) smells of the different plants. My favorites were the lime leaves and the curry leaves.
After the garden tour, we were ready to start cooking! Yay! The school kitchen is conveniently located on the side of Pearly’s house. Great setup with 8 individual work stations. This means you actually cook all of your own dishes from scratch, from start to finish. This is not a lecture style cooking class where you just watch the instructor cook, and maybe perform just a couple of tasks. This class is all hands on! The best way to learn.
We made three different Nyonya dishes: Beef Rendang, Inche Kabin, and Assam Pedas Prawns. Nyonya is a blend between the Chinese and Malay cultures, so Nyonya food is also a unique blend of those two cultures. So delicious!
Pearly walked us through cooking all three dishes from start to finish. She moved around from workstation to workstation to lend a hand whenever we needed, while her husband Chandra remained close-by in case Pearly (and the rest of us) needed anything. They were both so incredibly helpful and hospitable.
All of the dishes smelled absolutely amazing. We could hardly wait till lunch time! When we were all done cooking, we brought our own dishes into Pearly’s dining room and set them at the dining table. Chandra had prepared some rice for us to eat with our meals, along with some fresh homemade nutmeg tea. Everything was absolutely delicious! Good company, good food, fantastic experience.
After we were done eating, Chandra and Pearly drove the students back to their hotels. Transportation is included as part of the cost for the class.
If you plan on visiting Penang, I highly recommend checking out Penang Homecooking School. You will fall in love with Pearly. She has a very wide range of recipes so no two classes are the same. She may even let you pick what you would like to learn to cook! Can’t wait to visit? Check out Pearly’s cookbook, A Nyonya Inheritance (available on Kindle) and try some Malaysian Nyonya dishes tonight!
PS – Click HERE to view my photo gallery from this cooking class.